Pietermaritzburg - The youngest killer of Richmond family members, Ekard (76), Elizabeth (66) and Lutz Schutte (33) has failed in an appeal against his sentence of life plus 15 years’ imprisonment.
Three judges of the KZN high court found in a reserved judgment on Thursday that in spite of being 17 years old when he committed the murders, the sentences imposed on Lindokuhle Khoza could not be said to be “unduly harsh or shockingly inappropriate” given the heinous nature of his crimes.
When he was sentenced Khoza was 18 years and 10 months old.
Judge Rishi Seegobin, with Judge Trevor Gorven and Judge Peter Olsen concurring, said young people who commit barbaric and despicable acts of violence against innocent and defenceless members of society should not expect lighter sentences by claiming youthfulness and immaturity.
“The trial court [in this case] found correctly that the youthfulness of the appellant was offset by the viciousness of the attack,” said Seegobin.
Khoza, along with his co-accused Zamokhule Maduna (19) and Siphesihle Ngubane (20) pleaded guilty to murdering the three Schutte family members on March 1, 2014 so they could rob them.
Maduna was working for the Schuttes at their sawmill on Springfield Farm, Richmond, when the trio planned the robbery.
Ekard Schutte was killed first in a shed, after which the killers lay in wait for the return of his wife and son Lutz, who had just landed on a visit from Germany to celebrate Ekard Schutte’s 77th birthday.
Each victim in turn was stabbed and their throats were slit. Afterwards the killers poured petrol over their bodies and set them alight.
Judge Seegobin said a feature of the “vicious and deadly attack” was that the victims were completely defenceless.
“They put up no resistance whatsoever. The murders were committed in a cold-blooded and callous manner,” he said.
The full bench agreed with acting judge Louis Barnard, who said the killers had time to reflect on what they were doing after they had first killed Ekard Schutte.
“Instead they chose to pounce on the third deceased [Lutz] and mercilessly stabbed and killed him in front of his mother. As far as the second deceased [Elizabeth] is concerned, even after she had opened the safe for them, they thought nothing of stabbing her and slitting her throat,” said the Judge.
Judge Seegobin also said the country is facing a “crisis of alarming proportions” in respect of the killing of farmers, their families and sometimes employees. “The accompanying violence … as in this case fills society with anger and outrage,” he said. He added that statistics gathered over the past few years about the number of farm attacks were a matter of “deep concern” not only for the government, but also courts who had to deal with them on a daily basis.